An anti-bullying programme for primary schools is being launched today in counties Louth and Monaghan to celebrate Universal Children's Day.
The Kiva Project targets children from 1st to 6th class in response to what parents see as their biggest concern for their children.
New research from the eight schools involved shows that nearly a quarter of their students have reported being bullied two or three times a month.
9% of students reported they had bullied others and 6% of students from 4th class up said they had been cyber-bullied.
The initiative includes role-playing exercises to increase the empathy of bystanders, and computer simulations to encourage students to think about how they would intervene to reduce bullying.
A study of more than 7,000 students in Finnish schools published earlier this year found that the programme greatly benefitted the mental health of students experiencing the most bullying.
Kiva is now Finland’s national anti-bullying programme, and has been tested and used in several other European countries and New Zealand. It is currently being evaluated in the US.
The Genesis Programme is delivering KiVa to the schools, and Genesis Programme Manager Hugh Doogan says it is the sort of help that schools and teachers have been looking for.
"Some feedback that was done from the principals of secondary schools a couple of years ago through the anti-bullying centre in DCU showed that there was no formal, structured programme to help teachers make children more aware of bullying and what it is and what it isn't, and very importantly what to do when cases of bullying do arise," he said.
Digital Desk & Irish Examiner